Stateside, we just endured a long weekend digesting the excesses of our Thanksgiving tradition of gluttony. Gratitude is de rigeur and seasonally apt. Here is a list of what I am thankful for in professional rugby.
Scott Baldwin – An easy one, but necessary. Grateful I am not that stupid.
Women’s Rugby – Thank you for your achievements on the pitch and standards off it. Really. Well done.
The RFU and French Rugby – Tis the season we reimagine American history, and Pilgrims breaking bread with Native Americans. England and France have done excellent work reminding me how colonialism works. Lofty words paired with selfish cruelty. That Twickenham expansion project must have impressed the Samoans.
Stuart Hogg – Surely the greatest player ever to have lived. I am grateful to have witnessed it. Any chance we will see you learn to defend?
Meanwhile, Beauden Barrett continues to redefine play for the modern flyhalf. Despite being the World’s worst goal-kicker with an 80% success rate in 2017. Congrats on Player of the Year award. Again.
TMO’s have been a welcome addition here in the U.S., giving us plenty of time to hit the loo and grab some snacks without missing anything. At least my internal organs are thankful.
Similarly, the widespread outbreak of Whinging Player Syndrome. This abysmal behavior has me grateful I played in the good old days when referees could still demand respect and captains enforced it rather than made it worse.
SARU and WRU – Beyond comprehension how these two great rugby nations have become so abject at managing their affairs. I thank you for illustrating the price of hanging on to old resentments and perfecting learned helplessness. Now get your shit together.
Billy V – We missed you on the pitch this autumn, but your emergence as rapscallion and truth-teller makes me grateful for each utterance.
World Rugby – I am grateful for modest acronyms each time I see these two words together. Insecure hubris is hard to convey in two words. You make it look easy. The business model of professional rugby is not working. By all means double-down. Your opacity makes me thankful for when I DGAF.
Australia – I have been thankful for the Honey Badger and Pocock. A long tradition of characters who also distinguish themselves on the pitch. The ARU has become as inept as a former penal colony. I am grateful I am not a part of the shitshow of running the game Down Under.
Argentina – I am grateful every day I do not have to jump on an airplane and criss-cross the planet like your players. You have taken a promising side and broken it.
Samoa Rugby Union – Thank you for fronting up on the pitch this past month, and for highlighting how NOT to play a losing hand.
Finally, Tomas Francis – You are the most consistent reminder of why I am grateful for having personal standards. Keep being that gem of a hot mess.